Stocks open lower as volatility hits Wall Street; oil drops

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling on Wall Street as the market undergoes a bout of volatility. The S&P 500 fell 0.6% Wednesday morning. The benchmark index has alternated between gains and losses of more than 1% the previous four days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.5% and the Nasdaq fell 0.7%. International markets also sold off, with exchanges in Japan, South Korea, Germany and France all dropping more than 1%. Energy prices are retreating after a strong rally that contributed to renewed inflation fears among investors. U.S. oil fell 1.6% to $77.66 per barrel and natural gas dropped 8,1%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dipped to 1.51%.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Global shares slipped in cautious trading Wednesday, shrugging off a rally on Wall Street led by technology companies and banks that erased most of the losses from the previous day's sell-off.

France's CAC 40 dipped 1.9% in early trading to 6,450.56, while Germany's DAX dropped 2.1% to 14,869.63. Britain's FTSE 100 was down 1.6% at 6,964.13. The future for the Dow industrials fell 0.9% to 33,860.00. S&P 500 futures was 1.2% lower at 4,280.00.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 sank 1.1% to finish at 27,528.87 for its eighth straight session of losses.

South Korea's Kospi dipped 1.8% to 2,908.31. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.6% to 7,206.50. Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged down 0.6% to 23,966.49. Trading was closed in Shanghai for the Chinese national holidays.

Worries remain in Asia about ongoing coronavirus infections, although hopes are growing that economic activity will return closer to normal later this year, bouncing back from the deep downturn in 2020.

“On the risks front, China credit problems and contagion risks have certainty not abated with developer concerns still surfacing. As such, caution has not been thrown to the winds,” said Tan Boon Heng of the Asia & Oceania Treasury Department at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

Troubled real estate developer China Evergrande Group's risk of defaulting on its more than $300 billion in debt has alarmed investors already worried over the slowdown in China's growth.

Prospects for Japan, the world's third largest economy, remain uncertain. Fitch agency has retained a “negative outlook” for Japan, citing “downside risks to the macroeconomic and fiscal outlook from the coronavirus shock.”

Shares fell in New Zealand after its central bank raised interest rates for the first time in more than seven years, removing some of the support it put in place when the coronavirus pandemic began.

The Reserve Bank raised the benchmark rate from a record low 0.25% to 0.5%. The move came despite a lockdown in Auckland due to a coronavirus outbreak.

The bank said inflation was expected to rise to 4% in the short term before easing to 2% in the medium term.

The market has been choppy for weeks, with inflation concerns driving up-and-down shifts for technology companies and the broader market.

Still, Wall Street is still expecting solid corporate profit growth when the third-quarter earnings season kicks off later this month. S&P 500 companies are projected to post a 27.7% increase in earnings for the July-September quarter versus a year earlier, according to FactSet.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude lost 27 cents to $78.66 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.31 to $78.93 per barrel on Tuesday.

Brent crude, the international standard, fell 26 cents to $82.30 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 111.56 Japanese yen from 111.45 yen. The euro cost $1.1546, inching down from $1.1601.

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